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Wild About Utah: Nibley Firefly Park

Credit Courtesy & © Mary Heers
Author Melissa Marsted and Illustrator Liesl Cannon at the Stokes Nature Center Book Signing

Just imagine waking from a very long sleep into a bright May morning in Cache Valley. This is the story of Luci, a western firefly, told charmingly by Melissa Marsted and illustrated by Liesl Cannon in their new children’s book, The Mystery of Luci’s Missing Lantern. 

After completing her transition from a larva to an adult firefly, Luci notices she has no light. She flies up Logan Canyon looking for her missing lantern, where the animals she meets encourage her to keep looking. But it’s a bluebird on top of Mt. Naomi, the highest point in the canyon, who turns Luci around and sends her back to where she was born, the Nibley Firefly Park.

There Luci finds her light. She sits down near the top of a tall blade of grass, and suddenly males fly by, flashing their lights, trying to get her attention. Luci discovers she can flashback. It’s a party– a big courtship dance.

You can see the story unfold if you visit the Nibley Firefly Park after dark. But please tread carefully. For fireflies, this is their grand finale. It has taken two years for them to grow from larvae to flying adults. Now they are choosing a mate. By July they will have laid their eggs in the nearby marshy ground and their life cycle will come to an end.

Any artificial light brought to the scene (such as flashlights and car headlights) seriously disrupts the courtship flashing. If you visit the Nibley Firefly Park this summer, please keep your light to the barest minimum and enjoy the party.

Mary got hooked on oral histories while visiting Ellis Island and hearing the recorded voices of immigrants that had passed through. StoryCorps drew her to UPR. After she retired from teaching at Preston High, she walked into the station and said she wanted to help. Kerry put her to work taking the best 3 minutes out of the 30 minute interviews recorded in Vernal. Passion kicked in. Mary went on to collect more and more stories and return them to the community on UPR's radio waves. Major credits to date: Utah Works, One Small Step, and the award winning documentary Ride the Rails.